One Word to Describe the Conditions in Dar Al-Salam Asylum in Hodeidah: “Inhuman” [Archives:1999/30/Health]

July 26 1999

During my visit to Hodiedah and in one of my strolls in the city’s streets, I found out two hospitals carrying similar names. One was Al-Salalm Hospital and the other Dar Al-Salam Asylum. So I decided to drop by the latter and there I was indescribably shocked. Many innocent and poor people have been mercilessly locked in a prison-like asylum or hospital as the officials call where only overcrowdedness can suffocate, let alone the scathing heat known in Hodiedah during summer. 
Among these innocent creatures, there are some who are mentally and/or psychologically disturbed patients, but once they are thrown into this house, they might suffer new afflictions. It looks is if they were brought here just to be dispensed with. 
In order to know more about these victims, I talked to some of them and came up with the following reports: 
Ridhwan Mohamed Hassan, 32, has been in the “hospital” for three months. He says that he has been suffering from psychiatric disease due to family problems and since he came into the hospital he has been administered some medication and so far he feels better as he puts it himself. He only complains that some of the house’s doctors are real “nuts” and their treatments with the patients are inhumanely bad and certainly could aggravate the ailing conditions of the patients. 
Abdullah Mohammed Mastor, 55, says that he was forced into the house by sheer mistake. As he explains, more than a month ago, he wanted to go to Al-Salam Hospital to see a dermatologist ( he was then suffering from a skin disease.) On his way to the hospital he met a police officer who took him to Dar Al-Salam instead. Mr. Mastor has been in this place for over a month waiting for the officer to take him out of this place and praying that his stay would not become long. 
Abdulrahman, one of the house “prisoners” as he would call it himself, says that he does not know why he is in there. He complains of no ailment and hitherto has received no medical attention at all. His story began last Ramadhan when one of his neighbors, Ahmed Al-Forn, brought him to the house and left him there. He pleaded that his case should be attended to and his suffering ended to enable him to go home and take care of his kids and family. He described the people of the house as monsters. 
However, there are some amongst the house mates who give some credit to Dar Al-Salam. One of them is a medical graduate student who preferred to remain unidentified. He used to work in a public hospital and because of bad company he got addicted to a certain kind of narcotics. When it became too hard on him, specially after he tried to stop using drugs, he was taken to Dar Al-Salam for treatment. That was two months ago and now he feels a lot better. He admits that he received special treatments and has his own private room, though he pays YR. 700 per day, excluding medications expenses. He sincerely urged me to convey his advice to the young people in Yemen to become aware of the deadly consequences of drug addiction. He also expressed sympathy with the helpless mates of the house and said that many of them are put in the wrong place. 
In some cases I find it hard to believe or understand. For example, I came across a whole family consisting of the two parents, three kids and one on his/her way as the mother is expecting a baby. When I asked the father about their story, he said he had no idea why they were there. He said he was the first to be admitted in this place and later on was able to manage the admittance of the rest of the family. “Now I feel quite comfortable.” he concluded. 
There are many women inside the house. One of them, an old woman was crying for want of clothes. I noticed that many of them were wearing ragged and dirty garb. In short the situation for most cases in this house is inhumanely disgraceful. They just want to be treated as humans and are waiting for someone who can bring forth their cases and defend their basic rights of life and dignity. We in the Yemen Times urgently request Human Rights Commissions and Activists to embrace this important issue and start with a field inspection visit to Dar Al-Salam house to see for themselves how human beings are turned into monsters. 
By: Akram Abdulrahman Ahmed 
Yemen Times